Human Zoo Andaman Islands

January 11, 2012 by staff 

Human Zoo Andaman IslandsHuman Zoo Andaman Islands, Rights campaigners and politicians Wednesday condemned a video showing women from a protected and primitive tribe dancing for tourists reportedly in exchange for food on India’s Andaman Islands.

British newspaper The Observer released the undated video showing Jarawa tribal women – some of them n*ked – being lured to dance and sing after a bribe was allegedly paid to a policeman to produce them. (Video embedded below. NOTE: The video contains nudity and graphic images)

Under Indian laws designed to protect ancient tribal groups susceptible to outside influence and disease, photographing or coming into contact with the Jarawa and some of the Andaman aborigines is banned.

The tribe, thought to have been among the first people to migrate successfully from Africa to Asia, lives a nomadic existence in the lush, tropical forests of the Andamans in the Indian Ocean.

India’s Tribal Affairs Minister V. Kishore Chandra Deo on Wednesday said an investigation had been ordered.

“An inquiry has been ordered and it is being headed by the chief secretary and director-general of police of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands,” Deo told the Press Trust of India news agency.

“It’s deplorable. You cannot treat human beings like beasts for the sake of money. Whatever kind of tourism is that, I totally disapprove of that and it is being banned also,” the minister added.

Survival International, which lobbies on behalf of tribal groups worldwide, said the video showed tourists apparently enjoying “human zoos.”

“Quite clearly, some people’s attitudes towards tribal peoples haven’t moved on a jot. The Jarawa are not circus ponies bound to dance at anyone’s bidding,” said Stephen Corry, the group’s director, in a press release.

But state anthropologist A. Justin, who works on the Andaman islands, questioned whether the scenes were recent.

“Before the 2004 tsunami, people might have forced them to dance and there may have been some much smaller violations since then,” Justin said by telephone from the capital Port Blair.

“Since the tsunami, a policy of maximum autonomy with minimum intervention has been put in place. Things are being taken care of these days. There is a lot of (security) coverage there now.”

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